What a day! The day to celebrate both Mothers' Day and the birthday of the Church, Pentecost. A day which we have more than sufficient reason to say "Thank God". You and I likely say that many times, but what do we really thank God for? Today, what do you "Thank God" for? As we look at the world around us, our lives, our many gifts, and the list goes on, but on this day two items each of us can and likely thank God for are our mothers and for the Church. Our mothers gave us our birth and the Holy Spirit gave us the birth of the Church. Our mom's waited nine months before she delivered us into this world but she likely would have been more than willing to wait only 50 days like the Holy Spirit did, that is, the 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead. Our birth generated a dramatic paradigm shift, a real change in her life and the life of the whole family, and the birth of the Church made a dramatic paradigm shift in the life of all the Apostles as well the people in their time and in all people ever since.
We know what the addition of a baby does to a family and it is, or at least can be very dramatic. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles was quite dramatic as well the "the noise like a strong driving wind filling the entire house", and "then there appeared to them tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." The results were quite dramatic. Before the Holy Spirit came upon them they were truly filled with the bad kind of fear. They were afraid of what would happen to them if they would profess belief that Jesus was the Son of God and that he had accomplished the impossible, had risen from the dead, and returned physically to heaven. But once those tongues of fire rested on them, they were filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that bad fear left them and was replaced by good fear, the "Fear of the Lord", better said the "reverence and awe of the Lord". In addition they were filled with the other six gifts of the Holy Spirit, namely wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge and piety. Having those gifts under their belts they were willing to do many things, and were able to do many things they were not able to do when they were in the grasp of that bad fear. That one thing recorded in our 1st reading was that they were able to "speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to speak of the mighty acts of God." A large crowd from many different countries who spoke many different languages which had gathered having experienced the noise like a strong driving wind, heard them speaking in their own native languages even though those speaking were all Galileans. Essentially they were all utilizing all the gifts which the Holy Spirit had gifted them with. As scripture and history tells us they continued to utilize those gifts for the rest of their lives. Truly they were filled with the Holy Spirit which changed them deeply, resulting in them seeing the world through the eyes of God rather than their own.
You and I are given the gifts of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and they are reinforced at our Confirmation. Just like every other gift unless we use it they are like a gift with the wrappings still on. When we utilize those gifts, just as Jesus' followers did, we see the world through the eyes of God rather than our own. To see the world more as God does leads us to a very special way of living.
Rather than go into a long description of each of those seven let's pray the following:
Lord fill my heart with the seven-fold gift of your presence by answering this prayer:
Give me the gift of wisdom so I can see with your eyes, hear with your ears, think with your mind,
feel with your heart.
Give me the gift of understanding so that I can experience and judge life from the point of view of other people.
Give me the gift of counsel so that I can share the story of our faith and thereby strengthen my family and friends.
Give me the gift of fortitude so that I may stick to the task of living my faith and share the Gospel whether convenient or inconvenient.
Give me the gift of knowledge so that I can read the signs of the times and figure out how to respond in faith.
Give me the gift of piety so that I can be a true friends with you whether in prayer or in a good moral life.
Give me the gift of fear/reverence and awe of the Lord so that I can respond to your presence in church, at home and on the street.
Lord I know that when I accept these gifts I will experience the fruits of the Spirit as St. Paul defines in his letter to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.